Vaccination rates continue to climb slightly
For the seven-day period through Dec. 14, Sarasota County’s COVID-19 case rate was up 27.23%, compared to the rate for the previous seven days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
The total number of new cases through that seven-day period was 243, the CDC said, making the rate 56.02 per 100,000 people. That compares to a case rate of 60.17 for the seven days through Dec. 6, as The Sarasota News Leader noted in its COVID-19 update last week.
On Dec. 16, the CDC classified the county’s transmission rate as “Substantial,” with a positivity rate of 3.29% for the seven days through Dec. 16. That is down from the 3.6% figure the CDC cited for the seven-day average through Dec. 6.
The highest level of transmission in the CDC rankings is “High,” with “Substantial” a step down.
The most recent state data for Sarasota County — released by the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee on Dec. 10 — showed that the total number of cases in the county through Dec. 9 had grown to 56,445, with 253 added between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9.
Since early June, the state Health Department has issued COVID-19 updates only once a week, on Fridays.
The state report also said that, during the period of Dec. 3-9, the positivity rate for the county was 2.5%.
Further, it noted that another 1,838 residents of the county had been vaccinated during the same period.
In its updates this week, Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) has noted that its number of COVID-19 patients has ranged from 22 on Dec. 13 to 25 on Dec. 15. The count of those patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ranged from two on Dec. 13 to seven on Dec. 16. The latter figure was nearly double the count of four on Dec. 15.
Additionally, the number of deaths of COVID-19 patients at SMH has climbed slightly this week. On Dec. 13, the total since the pandemic began in the county was 529 — the same count as the hospital reported on Dec. 9. However, by Dec. 16, the number had risen to 532.
In the CDC’s vaccination report for Sarasota County, as shown on the webpage on Dec. 16, 72.9% of those age 12 and up had been fully vaccinated. For those 18 and older, the figure was 74.6%; and for those 65 and up, it was 89.4%.
Health professionals at all levels of government continue to stress that vaccination is the best protection against severe illness and death, even in the face of the new omicron variant.
In a Dec. 16 article, David Leonhardt of The New York Times quoted a Dec. 8 Tweet sent out by Dr. Muge Cevik, an infectious disease expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland: “Yes, we may need omicron specific vaccines, [especially] if omicron is to outcompete delta globally, which we don’t know yet. But, at present Delta remains the dominant variant globally. So, don’t wait for an updated vaccine, get your primary 2 doses and/or booster dose immediately.”
Leonhardt also reported, “The large number of unvaccinated adults [in the United States] means that Omicron may lead to spikes in Covid hospitalizations and deaths, which in turn could overwhelm some hospitals.”